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Scott Behson, PhD, is a professor of management at Fairleigh Dickinson University and the author of “The Working Dad’s Survival Guide.” Behson also founded and runs the blog Fathers, Work, and Family. Parent Co. spoke to Professor Behson about how working dads can establish a more balanced life, and how employers can help make it happen.


Parent Co: As an expert on the topic, can you give me a sense of the currently held general expectation for working dads in our country?

Scott Behson: There has been a lot of change for dads in a relatively short period of time. Dads today work as many hours as previous generations, but do three times the childcare and twice the housework as dads a generation ago.

Dads are still expected to be primary providers in most families, but have really expanded what they do in terms of everything else that’s needed to be done to run a household. This is largely due to the fact that so many families are now dual-earner couples, which means both the mom and dad work outside the home, and spend more evenly than ever before sharing the rest of the work that goes into running a household.

Things aren’t exactly even yet, but things are getting closer and closer. It’s a challenging time for dads because if you think about it, most of our role models did it differently and faced different expectations. To a large degree, this is why I wrote “The Working Dad’s Survival Guide” in order to help dads face these changing circumstances, and provide advice and encouragement, so they can do a good job in both of their incredibly important roles.

When you say that the amount of household work done by dads has increased dramatically over the generation before, would you say that it’s increased from nearly zero to what it is now, or is that not a fair statement?

I don’t think that’s exactly a fair statement. I think dads, for most of history, have cared about providing for their families and being there for their families. I would say it’s true that dads today are changing more diapers and doing more grocery shopping, but I wouldn’t say dads of previous generations didn’t do very, very important things and play important roles in the family besides earn money for them.

I don’t want to slag on my dad’s generation of dads. To use my dad as an example, my father, wonderful father, I hope I’m half the dad he is, but there are a lot of things I do in my daily life that were never expected of him.

I did half the bottles and half the diapers, and I go grocery shopping, and I cook, and I clean the house, and I do half the pick-ups. That’s just normal, and in fact, virtually every dad I know, my peer group, is in the same situation. It’s interesting that society doesn’t seem to acknowledge this very much. Society talks about deadbeat dads, or bumbling dad humor, or they over correct and are calling people “super dads” or we focus on stay-at-home dads. The fact is, there are millions of dads out there, and virtually every dad I know cares a lot about his career, and earning for the family, and being a really good hands-on, involved father.

What do you think it is that caused this relatively large change in such a short time?

It’s a bit of an echo of what working women faced in the past generation or so. If you think about what working moms have faced, they greatly expanded themselves into the workspace, but in many cases, were still very much expected to uphold what they were doing at home. That led to the second shifts and all these really difficult stressors on working women.

I think this is now men facing the fun house mirror version of what working women have faced, where men are greatly expanding what they do in the home and for their families, but in many cases are still expected by employers and by society to maintain everything they’re doing at work as well.

Of course, yeah.

Workplaces are not forgiving for any employee who puts family above working more than full-time hours, but there’s a lot of research that shows that it’s even more of a challenge for men to visibly be seen as accommodating their work lives for their family responsibilities.

As someone who teaches in the school of management, having your head in that world as well as a mind and eye towards a work-life balance, what do you see as the main sources of resistance to supporting this change in the workplace?

To some degree, I’m seeing things from both sides. I’m a business school professor, I work with companies, I work with dads on this specific issue, but I’m also a busy working dad myself trying to juggle it all, and I interviewed dozens of dads for the book. What I’m trying to contribute is being able to see both sides, I feel like I can give some really good, real-life advice that dads can use tomorrow to help them in their work-family juggles, but also be very realistic in terms of what’s possible in the workplace and what people need to be aware of.

Again, things have changed very rapidly, and I think a lot of companies, it’s finally on the radar that work and family issues aren’t just working mom issues. Many companies have become aware of this. They are worried that they are not able to recruit and hold onto really good employees, both men and women, because of some of the workplace demands and the inability to have a life outside of work, so it’s on their radars.

I don’t think too many companies have quite figured out what to do with it yet, but this was not on the radar of most companies ten years ago, so this is significant progress in a relatively short period of time.

I’ve been booked at several major corporations to lead workshops and seminars based on some of the content of the book, which shows that companies are really eager for information on this topic because they are trying to figure out what to do with it, if that makes sense.

Some companies have been very progressive on this. In fact, there’s only about fourteen percent of private employers offering things like paternity leave, but that number is going to increase pretty rapidly, I think. More importantly than set policy is starting to understand that technology, and the way work is, means that so many more people can get a lot of their work done outside of the workplace and outside of normal business hours.

I think when companies feel a little better about giving employees freedom about how and where and when they get their work done, that  will help both working men and women immeasurably. Companies are not good at evaluating performance, so a boss who doesn’t really know what his people are doing, he tends to evaluate performance based on how long somebody stays at work, or chair time, or face time, which is silly because it’s easily gamed, right?

Oh, yeah.

The productive employees work hard and go home, and the opportunists work slow and stay late until we combat that. There’s been some companies who’ve done incredible work in this area creating flexible workplaces that still are very productive and, in fact, are more profitable than ever now that they have given up some of that control over where and when.

When you’re booked by these employers, do you go to them with these examples as a way to show them how it’s being done right and the positive effects of that?

Yes, absolutely. Getting specifically to the book, there’s a chapter where I advise the reader to think through their ongoing career planning in light of the rest of their lives. One of the things I really wanted to accomplish in this book is that there are a lot of great parenting books out there, but none of them talk about work at all, which is really funny to me.

There are a lot of great career and business self-help books out there, but they hardly ever talk about the rest of your life outside of work. One of the things I really wanted to do in “The Working Dad’s Survival Guide” is to talk about these two important roles together, because they influence each other so much.

Anyway, that’s a long way of saying in one chapter of the book I advise people to think about their careers in light of the rest of their lives, because so many of us chose our careers either in college when we’re in our twenties, before we are married with kids, and what might have been a great early career track that suited our lives might not suit our lives ten, fifteen years later.

So many people stay on the track instead of reconsidering what they’re doing. In this chapter I highlight a handful of employers, not to be comprehensive but to be representative of different types of companies, and I give examples of these companies that have done really, really good work in terms of being forward on supporting employees and their work-life challenges. This includes big professional multinational firms, it includes companies that mostly have hourly employees. I try to be very representative.

I think that’s such a good point that you just brought up and I’ve actually never thought about it like that, because I guess from my own perspective, I’ve always known I wanted to write. And that’s such a broad notion, so when I started having a family, I made it work, or I’m still trying to make it work. I’ve never thought about stepping back and reevaluating a career choice to try to find something that’s perhaps a bit more family-friendly.

Luckily there are many different ways to have a good career in writing. There might not be that many ways to have a great career as a law partner or as a corporate executive. People who are on those types of tracks who are traveling out to clients four or five days a week, and are only home and weekends, and they’re road warriors and stuff, those are jobs that are very difficult to make it work.

If that’s what you want, and you’ve arranged your family life, and your spouse is on board with it, and your kids are getting what they need, that’s fine. It’s just, I’d rather people make conscious choices about what they’re doing. In fact, the first section (of the book) is all about thinking through your priorities. What you want out of life. What do you want out of your career? What do you want out of your family life, and what do you want out of your one shot at your kids’ childhoods?

I think it’s easy to feel so busy, because if you care about your career, you’re probably working more than full-time hours. Then, what’s left of your time, you’re probably trying to spend as much of it with your family as possible. I get it. But sometimes we have to almost get off the hamster wheel instead of running on the hamster wheel at full speed all the time, and then sit down in the cedar chips and to spend a little bit of time thinking about the big picture. I think if we figure out what you want in the big picture, then it might not be easy, it might not be quick, but I think we could start making decisions that are more aligned with what we want out of life. Then, in six months, two years, maybe we can find our way to a situation that’s far better for our set of priorities.

In talking to a lot of different dads, did anyone tell you that it’s really hard to be honest with yourself about what you want given the various societal pressures and cultural norms and everything? How do you advise people in that respect?

I recall a situation where I was talking to one of the dads I interviewed in the book and I asked him about this. I said, “What are things that are working well for you in terms of work life balance? What are things that aren’t? What’s getting in the way?” He’s quoted in the book. All the quotes are real, they’re anonomized, and there is no identifying information because some people talked about things they struggled with. One was like, “Man, I always promised myself once we had our kid that I would start getting off the road, and now my son is ten and I haven’t done it, and I don’t see how I can.” He feels the pressure to provide, but he also loves his job, and also I think he feels like since he’s been … It’s set up like a vicious cycle where he hasn’t been around, so then it’s harder for him to feel in sync when he is around. I felt like he can’t find a way to get himself there.

Again, I was interviewing him, I wasn’t trying to give too much advice, but I was like, “Listen, when this book comes out, go through these first couple of chapters and think through this. Maybe it won’t be easy to get off the road or change the career, but maybe in two years, or eight months, or however long it takes, maybe you can get closer to where you want to be.” Luckily life is long, and parenthood is long, careers are long, and we forget this sometimes. We’re going to be working for forty-five years. It’s okay to let an opportunity go by, or it’s okay to temporarily put something on hold.

I think a lot of people don’t like the word balance when it comes to work and family, and I think that’s because they have the wrong idea of balance. When you think of work-life balance, most people think about a tight rope or a balance beam or something where if you are not perfectly balanced, it’s a fall.

Everything falls apart, yeah.

Right, but I think we should look at it more like a balanced diet. I talk about this in the book where it’s okay to be temporarily out of balance. If you are an accountant, March and April are going to be crazy with work. If you have a sick family member, it’s going to be two weeks of all dealing with family and work goes by the wayside. That’s okay, as long as we have a long-term balance.

It takes a lot of different food groups to have a good diet, it takes work, and family, and time for yourself, and time as a couple, and time for exercise, and your own social needs, and religion, and whatever else is important in your life. It’s not just work and family, it should be almost like a balanced life in a broader sense, because we’re no good for other people if we’re burned out.

I think it’s what you’re saying about living a conscious life.

Yeah, I don’t know if I use those words in the book, but that’s beautifully said. Especially that first part, thinking about the priorities. Then, section two of the book is about the workplace, how do we navigate it, what are the things to watch out for, what are our options, how might we be able to work more flexibly or negotiate for things that we need and advocate for ourselves. Then at home, how do we make sure we have enough time for family and that we use this time really well. Then I have a section about taking care of yourself in what I was talking about there.

What do you see as the role of the partner in all of this?

Again, when we are talking about the priorities part of the book, step one is to think through your priorities. Step two is to talk about it with your spouse or the other important people in your life, because you might be a very career-oriented person and that’s great. If your spouse is on board with that and understands that you’re going to be away and then she, let me just use that pronoun for now, is going to pick it up at home, and everybody gets what they need in the family, and everybody is happy with their roles, then great.

You can have a very traditional arrangement, or you can have a very free-flowing, egalitarian relationship, that’s great, as long as it’s whatever everybody needs. One of the things I’ve observed is that a lot of times, if families don’t talk about it, it defaults to very gendered roles in the family where the dad is actually working more than he would want to, in part because the mom is working less than she would like to or perhaps leaves the workforce entirely, and neither of them are really happy with that arrangement. It’s frustrating to be home and be a full-time parent if that’s not really what suits you.

Sure, and nobody’s winning when that’s the case.

Exactly.

The kids certainly aren’t.

Yeah, but I see people suffer through that thinking it’s the only way instead of, again, examining and figuring out, “Well, I might be stuck in this role for the next nine months, but what can I do so that a year from now we can have a different arrangement?”

…Sometimes we internalize this; that we have to soldier on instead of taking a step back and seeking help, or talking about things that we need. It’s better if we recognize this is an issue. Again, one of the reasons I wrote this specifically for working dads – as a fellow working dad – is that guys are not particularly good at asking for directions. Especially when it comes to work and family, I think a lot of guys might not be comfortable talking about this or complaining about their situation, because they see that their wives are struggling with this too, and what right do we have to complain about it?

Even though ninety percent of the book would apply to working moms as well, the way the book is written was very intentional so that it’s much more accessible for guys. That’s another thing I’m trying to add to the conversation is that dads, we need to advocate for ourselves because so much depends on us. Families with involved fathers, the research is unbelievably clear that kids thrive, that their spouses thrive, that dads are happier and live longer if they’re more involved with their kids. It has so many positive ripple effects if dads are supported in the two most important roles in their lives, their role in the family and their role in their career.

Follow @scottbehson on Twitter and visit his website Fathersworkandfamily.com. Order his best-selling book, The Working Dad’s Survival Guide.

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We spend a lot of time prepping for the arrival of a baby. But when it comes to the arrival of our breast milk (and all the massive adjustments that come with it), it's easy to be caught off guard. Stocking up on a few breastfeeding essentials can make the transition to breastfeeding a lot less stressful, which means more time and energy focusing on what's most important: Your recovery and your brand new baby.

Here are the essential breastfeeding tools you'll need, mama:

1. For covering up: A cute nursing cover

First and foremost, please know that all 50 states in the United States have laws that allow women to breastfeed in public. You do not have to cover yourself if you don't want to—and many mamas choose not to—and we are all for it.

That said, if you do anticipate wanting to take a more modest approach to breastfeeding, a nursing cover is a must. You will find an array of styles to choose from, but we love an infinity scarf, like the LK Baby Infinity Nursing Scarf Nursing Cover. You'll be able to wear the nursing cover instead of stuffing it in your already brimming diaper bag—and it's nice to have it right there when the baby is ready to eat.

Also, in the inevitable event that your baby spits-up on you or you leak some milk through your shirt, having a quick and stylish way to cover up is a total #momwin.

2. For getting comfortable: A cozy glider

Having a comfy spot to nurse can make a huge difference. Bonus points if that comfy place totally brings a room together, like the Delta Children Paris Upholstered Glider!

Get your cozy space ready to go, and when your baby is here, you can retreat from the world and just nurse, bond, and love.

3. For unmatched support: A wire-free nursing bra

It may take trying on several brands to find the perfect match, but finding a nursing bra that you love is 100% worth the effort. Your breasts will be changing and working in ways that are hard to imagine. An excellent supportive bra will make this so much more comfortable.

It is crucial to choose a wireless bra for the first weeks of nursing since underwire can increase the risk of clogged ducts (ouch).The Playtex Maternity Shaping Foam Wirefree Nursing Bra is an awesome pick for this reason, and because it is designed to flex and fit your breasts as they go through all those changes.

4. For maximum hydration: A large reusable water bottle

Nothing can prepare you for the intense thirst that hits when breastfeeding. Quench that thirst (and help keep your milk supply up in the process) by always having a water bottle with a straw nearby, like this Exquis Large Outdoor Water Bottle.

5. For feeding convenience: A supportive nursing tank

Experts recommend that during the first weeks of your baby's life, you breastfeed on-demand, meaning that any time your tiny boss demands milk, you feed them. This will help establish your milk supply and get everything off to a good start.

What does this mean for your life? You will be breastfeeding A LOT. Nursing tanks, like the Loving Moments by Leading Lady, make this so much easier. They have built-in support to keep you comfy, and you can totally wear them around the house, or even out and about. When your baby wants to eat, you'll be able to quickly "pop out" a breast and feed them.

6. For pain prevention: A quality nipple ointment

Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt, but the truth is those first days can be uncomfortable. Your nipples will likely feel raw as they adjust to their new job. This will get better! But until it does, nipple ointment is amazing.

My favorite is the Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter. We love that it's organic, and it is oh-so-soothing on your hard-at-work nipples.

Psst: If it actually hurts when your baby latches on, something may be up, so call your provider or a lactation consultant for help.

7. For uncomfortable moments: A dual breast therapy pack

As your breasts adjust to their new role, you may experience a few discomforts—applying warmth or cold can help make them feel so much better. The Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy Pack is awesome because you can microwave the pads or put them in the freezer, giving you a lot of options when your breasts need some TLC.

Again, if you have any concerns about something being wrong (pain, a bump that may be red or hot, fever, or anything else), call a professional right away.

8. For inevitable leaks: An absorbing breast pad

In today's episode of, "Oh come on, really?" you are going to leak breastmilk. Now, this is entirely natural and you are certainly not required to do anything about this. Still, many moms choose to wear breast pads in their bras to avoid leaking through to their shirts.

You can go the convenient and disposable route with Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads, or for a more environmentally friendly option, you can choose washable pads, like these Organic Bamboo Nursing Breast Pads.

9. For flexibility: A breast pump

Many women find that a breast pump becomes one of their most essential mom-tools. The ability to provide breast milk when you are away from your baby (and relieve uncomfortable engorged breasts) will add so much flexibility into your new-mom life.

For quick trips out and super-easy in-your-bag transport, opt for a manual pump like the Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump .

If you will be away from your baby for longer periods of time (traveling or working outside the home, for example) an electric pump is your most efficient bet. The Medela Pump In Style Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump is a classic go-to that will absolutely get the job done, and then some.

10. For quality storage: Breast milk bags

Once you pump your liquid gold, aka breast milk, you'll need a place to store it. The Kiinde Twist Pouches allow you to pump directly into the bags which means one less step (and way less to clean).

11. For keeping cool: A freezer bag

Transport your pumped milk back home to your baby safely in a cooler like the Mommy Knows Best Breast Milk Baby Bottle Cooler Bag. Remember to put the milk in a fridge or freezer as soon as you can to optimize how long it stays usable for.

12. For continued nourishment: Bottles

Nothing beats the peace of mind you get when you know that your baby is being well-taken of care—and well fed—until you can be together again. The Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottle Newborn Starter Gift Set is a fan favorite (mama and baby fans alike).

This article is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.

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A viral video about car seat safety has parents everywhere cracking up and humming Sir-Mix-A-Lot.

"I like safe kids and I cannot lie," raps Norman Regional Health System pediatric hospitalist Dr. Kate Cook (after prefacing her music video with an apology to her children."I'm a doctor tryin' warn you that recs have changed," she continues.

Dr. Cook's rap video is all about the importance of keeping babies facing backward. It's aptly called "Babies Face Back," and uses humor and parody to drive home car seat recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

"Switching from rear-facing to forward-facing is a milestone many parents can't wait to reach," Dr. Cook said in a news release about her hilarious video. "But this is one area where you want to delay the transition as long as possible because each one actually reduces the protection to the child."

Last summer the AAP updated its official stance on car seat safety to be more in line with what so many parents were already doing and recommended that kids stay rear-facing for as long as possible. But with so many things to keep track of in life, it is understandable that some parents still don't know about the change. Dr. Cook wants to change that with some cringe-worthy rapping.

The AAP recommends:

  • Babies and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat.
  • Once they are facing forward, children should use a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness for as long as possible. Many seats are good up to 65 pounds.
  • When children outgrow their car seat they should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle's lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly, between 8 and 12 years old.

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[Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]

Suicide rates for girls and women in the United States have increased 50% since 2000, according to the CDC and new research indicates a growing number of pregnant and postpartum women are dying by suicide and overdose. Suicide rates for boys and men are up, too.

It's clear there is a mental health crisis in America and it is robbing children of their mothers and mothers of their children.

Medical professionals urge people to get help early, but sometimes getting help is not so simple. For many Americans, the life preserver that is mental health care is out of reach when they are drowning.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg just released a plan he hopes could change that and says the neglect of mental health in the United States must end. "Our plan breaks down the barriers around mental health and builds up a sense of belonging that will help millions of suffering Americans heal," says Buttigieg.

He thinks he can "prevent 1 million deaths of despair by 2028" by giving Americans more access to mental health and addictions services.

In a country where giving birth can put a mother in debt, it's not surprising that while as many as 1 in 5 new moms suffers from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, more than half of new moms who need mental health treatment don't get it. Stigma, childcare and of course costs are factors in why women aren't seeking help when they are struggling.

Buttigieg's plan is interesting because it could remove some of these barriers. He wants to make mental health care more affordable by ensuring everyone has comprehensive coverage for mental health care and by ensuring that everyone can access a free yearly mental health check-up.

That could make getting help more affordable for some moms, and by increasing reimbursement rates for mental health care delivered through telehealth, this plan could help moms get face time with a medical professional without having to deal with finding childcare first.

Estimates from new research suggest that in some parts of America as many as 14% or 30% of maternal deaths are caused by addiction or suicide. Buttigieg's plan aims to reduce those estimates by fighting the addiction and opioid crisis and increasing access to mental health services in underserved communities and for people of color. He also wants to reduce the stigma and increase support for the next generation by requiring "every school across the country to teach Mental Health First Aid courses."

These are lofty goals with a lofty price tag. It would cost about $300 billion to do what Buttigieg sets out in his plan and the specifics of how the plan would be funded aren't yet known. Neither is how voters will react to this 18-page plan and whether it will help Buttigieg stand out in a crowded field of Democratic candidates.

What we do know is that right now, America is talking about mental health and whether or not that benefits Buttigieg's campaign it will certainly benefit America.

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[Editor's Note: Welcome to It's Science, a Motherly column focusing on evidence-based explanations for the important moments, milestones, and phenomena of motherhood. Because it's not just you—#itsscience.]

If you breastfeed, you know just how magical (and trying) it is, but it has numerous benefits for mama and baby. It is known to reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, and cuts the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by half.

If this wasn't powerful enough, scientists have discovered that babies who are fed breast milk have a stomach pH that promotes the formation of HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor cells). HAMLET was discovered by chance when researchers were studying the antibacterial properties of breast milk. This is a combination of proteins and lipids found in breast milk that can work together to kill cancer cells, causing them to pull away from healthy cells, shrink and die, leaving the healthy cells unaffected.

According to researchers at Lund University in Sweden, this mechanism may contribute to the protective effect breast milk has against pediatric tumors and leukemia, which accounts for about 30% of all childhood cancer. Other researchers analyzed 18 different studies, finding that "14% to 19% of all childhood leukemia cases may be prevented by breastfeeding for six months or more."

And recently, doctors in Sweden collaborated with scientists in Prague to find yet another amazing benefit to breast milk. Their research demonstrated that a certain milk sugar called Alpha1H, found only in breast milk, helps in the production of lactose and can transform into a different form that helps break up tumors into microscopic fragments in the body.

Patients who were given a drug based on this milk sugar, rather than a placebo, passed whole tumor fragments in their urine. And there is more laboratory evidence to support that the drug can kill more than 40 different types of cancer cells in animal trials, including brain tumors and colon cancer. These results are inspiring scientists to continue to explore HAMLET as a novel approach to tumor therapy and make Alpha1H available to cancer patients.

Bottom line: If you choose to breastfeed, the breast milk your baby gets from your hard work can be worth every drop of effort.

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